Maria Tecla Artemesia Montessori | August 31, 1870 – May 6, 1952
Italian Physician and Educator

Maria Montessori is the founder of the Montessori Philosophy.

Montessori initially wanted to study engineering but opted for a career in Medicine (both unusual aspirations for a woman in her time). She graduated from the University of Rome in 1896 as a doctor of medicine.

Montessori focused her studies on mentally disabled children and children with learning disabilities. Her observation of these children's learning behaviours led her to study the works of 19th-century physicians and educators Jean Marc Gaspard Itard and Edouard Seguin, both of whom greatly influenced her developing education philosophy.

In 1906 Dr. Montessori was invited to oversee a low income school for mentally normal children called Casa dei Bambini, or Children's House. She embraced this opportunity to test her new theories of education derived from her previous work.


Casa dei Bambini, or Children's House

Activities at Casa dei Bambini included personal care such as dressing and undressing, care of the environment such as dusting and sweeping, and caring for the garden. 

In this first classroom, Montessori observed behaviours in these young children which formed the foundation of her educational method. She noted episodes of deep attention and concentration, multiple repetitions of activity, and a sensitivity to order in the environment. Given free choice of activity, the children showed more interest in practical activities and Montessori's materials than in toys provided for them, and were surprisingly unmotivated by sweets and other rewards. Over time, she saw a spontaneous self-discipline emerge.

The first Casa dei Bambini was a success, and a second was opened on April 7, 1907. The children in her programs continued to exhibit concentration, attention, and spontaneous self-discipline, and the classrooms began to attract the attention of prominent educators, journalists, and public figures.


Montessori Method

Montessori had many accomplishments with one being the Montessori Method, which is a method of educating young children that stresses development of a child's own initiative and natural abilities, especially through practical play.

This method allowed children to develop at their own pace and provided educators with a better understanding of child development. She goes into further detail about the method in her book, The Montessori Method.

Educators in the field set up special environments to meet the needs of the students in three age groups: two and a half years, two and a half to six years, and six and a half to twelve years.

The students learn through activities that involve exploration, manipulations, order, repetition, abstraction, and communication.

The teacher encourages the children to use their senses to explore and manipulate materials in their immediate environment. 


Further Development

Montessori continued to develop her science and art of education and her model of human development. She also expanded her work and extended it to older children.

She saw human behaviour as guided by universal, innate characteristics in human psychology. In addition, she observed four distinct periods, or "planes", in human development, extending from birth to six years, from six to twelve, from twelve to eighteen, and from eighteen to twenty-four. She saw different characteristics, learning modes, and developmental imperatives active in each of these planes, and called for educational approaches specific to each period.

Over the course of her lifetime, Montessori developed pedagogical methods and materials for the first two planes, from birth to age twelve, and wrote and lectured about the third and fourth planes.

Maria created over 4,000 Montessori classrooms across the world and her books were translated in many different languages for the training of new educators. 


Maria Montessori. (2014, November 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 09:40, December 11, 2014, from